Welcome to MekTrix 4.0

Aka Shish’s Place of Stuff

TravMap’s somewhat-late Birthday

I forget exactly when the project was started, but monitoring started a year ago. Thus I shall reminice:

Originally, a bunch of people in an IRC channel I hang out in decided to play Travian. As there were about 20 of us, keeping track was a pain, so I decided to make a map. This first version of the map was an SVG file drafted in Inkscape, edited by hand, and saved as a PNG image.

Pretty soon I got bored of updating by hand, and started looking for a way to automate things. Thankfully, the travian creators decided to be awesome and give out a dump of part of their database \o/ I put it into a local SQLite database so that it could be searched easily. Seeing as this was just a 5 minute hack that nobody other than myself would ever use or even see, I decided to use PHP to write the front end…

After a couple of weeks of adding features, I noticed that it could be useful to other people, so I posted about it on the forums. It ended up being quite popular, and I got several feature requests~ I also added support for other servers, and from there, to other languages. Having people offer to help with translation has been very motivational — It’s nice to know that people care about the project~

Talking about other languages, an interesting note on culture; when an American server is added, I get bug reports along the lines of “Type: Defect // Priority: Critical // The new server was added 3 hours ago, why is it not on travmap yet?!”. When a European server is added, the report is more like “Type: Enhancement // Priority: Minor // There is a new travian server at s2.travian.foo, please can you add it to your list? Thankyou :)”

Another few weeks later I had broken all my web serving records; I was serving tens of megabytes per day, and my server was melting — getting a P2 200MHz box with 64MB RAM to search through 200MB of database several times a second was painful. Switching to highly indexed MySQL made things better, but still bad. I ended up buying a load more RAM, ending up at 256MB. This was OK for a couple of months, until the database grew to be again too large to fit in memory… It got to the point where it was being queried faster than it could respond, so it got slower, and things stacked up exponentially — load average broke 60 within minutes of apache being started :-/

Eventually I gave up on self hosting, and moved across to dreamhost — thanks to the wonders of overselling, they had tons of spare processing power, memory, and bandwidth. Aside from datacenter problems, they’ve been pretty cool.

Since then, growth has been pretty steady. The database is now over 500MB, going over a hit a second at peak times (That’s quite a lot of traffic, nearing a gig a day now…). I also notice that dreamhost moved me to a different database server without telling me :|

Also I figured that with 10,000 visitors per day, there ought to be some way of making some money out of it — putting up a “please pay for my hosting” link earned me a grand total of $5 ($4.50 once paypal took their cut) from one guy — to this day, the only money I’ve made directly from programming ^_^ About a month ago I put some ads on the site to see how effective they were, and since then I’ve made enough to cover nearly half of that 256MB RAM I bought so long ago — another 3-4 months of the same earnings, and I’ll have got as much money out of the project as I’d put in XD

Overall, it’s been a fun year — I’ve learned lots about caching and optimisation, and how much PHP sucks (I *really* wish I’d written it in something else, I didn’t know it’d get so big…); I haven’t actually played travian for a few months now, I’m just sticking with the project because it’s enjoyable~

I forget how I was going to end my rambling, so I shall do so abruptly. End.

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